hamlet again

started watching david tennant’s hamlet (free on pbs!) the other night and had to stop about 25 minutes in.

hamlet often hits too close to home.

tennant’s hamlet is quite interesting, though – his eyes and eyebrows are startlingly intense in his pale face, there’s a certain fixedness in his look that is difficult to watch.  which really does work for the first scene in which hamlet appears – when the sharpness of his grief makes those around him intensely uncomfortable.  something to look away from.

watching/ thinking about gertrude more deeply this time.  why did she marry claudius?  the historic rational isn’t too different from in richard III, where lady anne marries richard, the man who killed her husband – for women, there just were not too many options.  you have to take what you can get, and soon, as a matter of survival.

but more than that, i thought about gertrude on the rebound.

hamlet wonders at her ability to remarry so quickly, after how deeply she loved his father, but on the other hand it is not that surprising.  i wonder how much of her action was done out of shock – rationalized every step of the way, but still done impulsively, a means to keep feeling away, to negate the gaping absence she was suddenly left with.  in this production it particularly makes sense, as claudius is played by the same actor that plays hamlet’s father (patrick stewart!) – there is some strain of similarity, some echo of the passed, that she can hold onto in the darkness, instead of being left alone.

[‘i sleep better with you next to me,’ someone said to me once.  what they meant was, ‘i sleep better with anyone next to me.’]

her alleged lust with claudius (although this is only according to hamlet, who is admittedly biased about the entire situation) makes sense too.  who hasn’t tried to fuck away pain?  we so rarely phrase it to ourselves in those terms, but isn’t that what we do?

it was at this particular turn in my thoughts that i had to stop watching.

‘touch me not so near.’ (a different shakespeare play, i know.)

anyway.

started reading recently william darlymple’s ‘city of djinns,’ a book about delhi.  we actually read a few excerpts from it in the class on delhi history i took while in india, and it is very interesting re-reading it – recognizing so much more than i realized i remembered, realizing even more profoundly how little advantage i took of being in the city while i was there.

going to look at some of my pictures from there.  haven’t in literally years.

Nizamuddin

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